Star Wars Comics History-Age of the Empire

While it was currently running the prequel-era “Republic” comics, Dark Horse also began a second monthly, featuring events during the Original trilogy era.

 

The series started with the Betrayal arc, in which a series of Grand Moffs-who don’t like being ruled by two Sith Lords-try to organize a coup against the Emperor and Vader. Of course, it doesn’t quite go well.

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The arc also introduced-and quickly got rid of-Grand Moff Tractha, who like Vader has Cybernetic replacements; however, he later showed up in the “early Empire” story Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, and even got a Hasbro figure.

 

After a brief interlude with Princess Leia (“Princess, Warrior”) taking place slightly before “A New Hope”, and a Boba Fett issue by the team who wrote his one-shots “trilogy”, we’re given the second major arc with “Darklighter”.

The comics largely detailed the backstory of Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke’s, who dies on the Death Star trench run.

A lot of Bigg’s role and backstory in the movie was deleted (although one scene was restored for the special edition). In older cuts, Luke actually appears far earlier in the movie, spotting the space battle overhead and running to tell his friends, including Biggs who is on leave from the Imperial academy. The two get to have a talk, in which Biggs confides in him that he’s joining the Rebellion.

The comic builds heavily on not only this, but also Bigg’s short career as a TIE fighter pilot, with the artistic choice to make the helmet translucent to better show the emotions of the characters. The issues with the Darklighter aren’t actually sequential (perhaps due to the time needed to finish the detailed art) and were broken up between standalones.

After two more standalones-one featuring a Stormtrooper on the Death Star, and another revealing what happened to Vader after his TIE went out of control at the end of the film, we get another new arc after the Darklighter issues finally finish.

 

The next arc deals with an Imperial batallion dealing with a large group of hostile, flatworm-like “Anamamen”

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Represented in the films by this kin of creepy guy.

They’re led by Janek Sunber, whose story also ties into Luke and Biggs…

After this arc ends we get a short interlude with Vader targeted by the Faleen, an alien species who’s homeworld was messed up by Vader (This also ties into the Shadows of the Empire storyline).

What follows are a few adventures with Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, one in particular introducing the character Deena Shan, who plays a significant role in the final arc of the series.

 

The next major arc-after a Boba Fett standalone and a two issue-story where Luke recruits a former Clone trooper into the alliance-we get “In the Shadows of their Fathers”. This is a sequel to the “Battle of Jaabim” arc, with the Jaabim rebels not being too pleased with how things went down during the Clone Wars, where another man by the name of Skywalker abandoned them. It’s got some pretty cool covers…

 

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It ends with Luke leaving the planet, but somewhat unsettled by what he’s learned, that his father might not have been the great hero he thought he was, and  that Obi-Wan was ‘killed’ on the planet. He wonders what Ben was keeping from him…

The final arc is “Wrong Side of the War”, where Luke, Deena, and other rebels go undercover in Imperial outfits as part of a rebel infiltration and strike force. However, things don’t go quite smoothly. Deena falls in love with an Imperial officer during the mission, and Janek Sunber shows up, and recognizes Luke. We learn that Janek is in fact, Luke’s old buddy “Tank”-mentioned in Star Wars as having left like Biggs did to join the Empire, but unlike Biggs, he didn’t join the rebels….he recognizes Luke, but only as his old friend, who he’s convinced also joined the Empire, not knowing that Luke is a rebel hero. Of course, Luke’s true allegiance is finally figured out-but Sunber is reluctant to join the alliance, as he believes in the Order of the Empire.

 

The storyline continues in the sequel series “Star Wars  Rebellion”, which I will cover in the next article.

 

 

Star Wars Comic History-Wars On Infinite Galaxies Part Two-There is Another

 

In this second alternate take on the trilogy, Luke actually succumbs to his wounds from the Wampa attack. Before he passes, the delirious Luke relays Obi-Wan’s message…and suddenly Han believes he’s the chosen one!

 

Luke’s funeral distracts the characters from finding out about the probe droid, and so the Empire’s able to do a sneak attack. Like in the film, the “Falcon” escapes but makes it to Bespin without entering the asteroid field. Things on Bespin play a lot differently, with Boba-unmasked (This came out at the same time “Attack of the Clones” was released, and pretty much “unmasked” Fett and revealed his backstory, so naturally the artists probably wanted to use that)

Fett arrives at Bespin but, without the backup of the Empire, he’s outsmarted by Lando and co, and becomes the carbonite victim instead of Han.

 

Unfortunately, when Vader does arrive after Han and co. leave he’s not too pleased and destroys the city-Lando and frozen Fett included.

Han and co. make it to Dagobah, where Yoda pretty much spills the beans about Vader being Leia’s father, and Han definitely not being a Jedi.

While Leia gets trained by Yoda instead of Luke…..

 

Han and Chewie head to Tatooine to pay off Jabba the Hutt, minus the whole ROTJ plan, although things don’t go quite well. In yet another crossover with “Attack of the Clones”, instead of a rancor we get two Nexu (The cat-like arena monster):

Meanwhile-Vader-dissecting his old friend C3PO after Han and Chewie escape from Jabba’s clutches-leaving the poor droid behind-and shows up to battle Leia and Yoda. Yoda first battles him on the astral plane, causing a strange effect to Vader’s armor that makes it look a lot like the old Mcquarrie design, and he even removes his helmet to reveal Padawan Anakin Skywalker (With Hayden’s AOTC likeness-AOTC connection #3), but he’s able to overcome the illusions and defeat Yoda. Then father and daughter have a duel…

 

….but it’s Han that delivers the deathblow with his blaster when he returns. Works better here than it does in the actual film, it seems….

Although that’s not nearly as bad as what happened in “Empire’s End” with cloned Palpatine.

“Han shot first” indeed.

Vader is then burned ROTJ-style by Leia, but there’s still the rest of the Empire to worry about-although Dark Horses’s infinities twist on ROTJ wouldn’t follow this one, but also be self-contained.

Star Wars: What’s the third spin-off?

Since 2012 Disney has owned the rights to Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise, and have pretty much dedicated themselves, since the release of “The Force Awakens” in 2015, to releasing at least one Star Wars film per year, similar to their pattern with Marvel Studios (although now Marvel studios is moving much faster with the films since their initially slower roll-out). In addition to finally releasing the sequel trilogy of films, Disney also has started working on “Spin-off” films. While not necessarily 100% new in Star Wars-there were two TV movies featuring the Ewoks in the 80’s, and the pilot of the CG-animated “Clone Wars” was released in theaters in 2008, these films are intended to be more ambitious.

The first two spin-offs are already underway-of course, there’s the recently released “Rogue One” which dealt with the theft of the Death Star plans:

 

….and the upcoming Han Solo film which will tell of the younger years of the Smuggler hero…. (as well as his friends Chewbacca and Lando)

 

However, Disney has largely remained silent on what the third spin-off will feature. Will it follow the trend and be sort of a prequel like Rogue One and Han (although set much closer to the films than the prequel trilogy), or will it deal with something else entirely?

Here’s some speculation-shared by others on the internet-about what exactly this mysterious spinoff will feature.

Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi

A lot of people are fairly interested in a film featuring the time when Obi-Wan was a hermit living on Tatooine, protecting Luke and hiding from the Empire and his former student, Darth Vader. While this might sound a bit boring, there’s a possibility Obi-Wan could get into scrapes on Tatooine that could provide some sort of story-perhaps a showdown with Jabba the Hutt? Or maybe a mission that, for some reason, takes him temporarily off Tatooine. By the time of the OT, Obi-Wan’s certainly a more seasoned Tatooine citizen, well-aware of the dangers of Tusken Raiders and Mos Eisley spaceport, while in the PT he only spent a brief time there. Ewan Mcgregor has expressed some interest in playing Obi-Wan again (Indeed he did a small voice-over as Obi’s force ghost in “The Force Awakens”, a role that some feel that-although one of the highlights of the prequel trilogy-was let down by George Lucas’s directing and writing.

 

Yoda

Yoda is of course the old Jedi Master who was pretty much one of the leaders of the Jedi during the Clone Wars-and later of course trained Luke, but he was already a Jedi by the time of the prequels. It could be interesting to see his younger years, how he became a master himself. Such a film might be a bit effects-heavy though due to Yoda’s nature, and I imagine a whole movie revolving around him would be quite difficult to write giving how he tends to talk in backwards sentences.

 

Boba Fett

The bounty hunter is of course one of the most iconic OT characters, although one with a small amount of screen time and dialogue. Part of his backstory-that he was a clone of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, something he shares in common with the Clones from the Clone Wars (although he is not as enhanced as they are)-is revealed in “Attack of the Clones”, and he took up his father’s profession and a similar armor to embark on a similar career, some of which is brought up in the Clone Wars TV series. Some people are hoping that this will be the third spin-off, but arguably Boba was most effective wearing the mask, and with little backstory, and for an entire film to focus on that, surely some of him being unmasked-and the AOTC backstory brought up-would have to be addressed. Perhaps he’ll appear in the upcoming Han Solo film as well, but we’ll wait and see.

 

Darth Vader

Now, technically we’ve already had three Darth Vader films which flesh out his backstory-the prequel trilogy, but there’s still a little bit that can be elaborated on, such as his early years helping the Empire ‘hunt down’ the rest of the Jedi Knights after Order 66. Certainly, his brief appearances in Rogue One were considered the highlight of those films. However, while I’m sure Vader will have some role in future spinoffs, I’m not sure how much further they can take his story.

Emperor Palpatine

Although he’s of course the ‘true’ villain of the franchise, Palpatine’s origins before the Phantom Menace-when his evil plan to control the galaxy are already underway-remain shrouded in mystery, except that he was once apprenticed to Darth Plageuis  and then killed him. A novel, “Darth Plagueis”-revealed more of his backstory, but that novel is now no longer canon. Could Palpatine have been, like Anakin, sort of good and then corrupted? How did he meet and train Darth Maul, or corrupt Count Dooku or Darth Plagueis? Not necessarily a great idea-the political machinations of the Prequels many thought were boring (although Palpatine himself is considered a highlight), but just kind of throwing this one out there.

The Old Republic

Since the 90’s, there’s been a fascination with the ‘ancient’ Star Wars universe-the time when both the Jedi and the Sith were at their peak and locked in a series of wars, and the Republic was otherwise flourishing. This subject, in addition to some comic series, also became the focus of the “Knights of the Old Republic” game series (Worked on in part by the company Bioware, which would later work on the “Mass Effect” series using some of the tools learned from KOTOR), as well as the still-running MMORG, The Old Republic. Many fans are really hoping that this type of story could be made into a movie, although with some modifications to fit in with the new timeline.

Poe Dameron

 

Why not someone from the new Trilogy? Although Rey’s pretty much the lead, and Finn seems pretty much the co-lead, Poe Dameron was sort of a distant third, and kind of vanished for most of the middle of the film. Nevertheless, the character’s backstory and character have been heavily fleshed out by Marvel comics in both the Shattered Empire and his own titled series, and seems like he’d be the most “spin-off ready” characters, depending on how the sequels utilize him. After all, we’re getting a Han Solo movie, and he was one of the main characters of the OT.

 

Legends of Star Wars: Post-Return of the Jedi – or”Duel of the Original Trilogy Fates” Part I

*Spoilers for the books and the new films*

 

In this series of articles, I’ll examine how the recently “de-canonized” Expanded Universe-the pre-Disney books, comics, video games etc. dealt with areas of Star Wars not covered by the movies-and how they compare to Disney’s ‘new canon’, which is composed of mainly, at this point:

  1. The saga films-Episodes I-9, with 8 and 9 still in production
  2. Spin-offs, such as Rogue One
  3. The 2008-2013 Clone Wars TV series and film
  4. The Rebels animated series
  5. Del Rey’s post-2014 novels
  6. The Star Wars comics by Marvel from 2014 onward

The old stuff is still sold, but is now branded with the term “Legends” to distinguish it from the Disney product.

Anyway, I’ll start mainly with character comparisons. These will mainly deal with the “Big three” OT characters for now, and pretty much only deal with their fates as of “Force Awakens”. I’ll probably provide a follow-up for “Last Jedi” at some point next year. Future articles will deal with other characters, settings, other comparisons etc.

 

Luke Skywalker

In both versions, Luke goes about re-building the Jedi Order. However, there’s one key difference.

He’s actually successful. He builds a sort of Jedi Academy on Yavin IV in the ruins of the old Rebel Base (which is later moved into the old Temple on Coruscant). Although it has a few bumps in the road- students (and Luke briefly) going to the dark side, interference from the New Republic, Imperial attacks, Yavin IV pretty much getting invaded or attacked by Imperial remnants and Vong etc. Luke’s order actually lasts a pretty long time, until the events of the “Legacy” series. Luke even settles down and marries his former enemy Mara Jade, and they have a son, Ben Skywalker, although Mara eventually is killed.

 

Luke’s Jedi Order in the Force Awakens? Not so lucky.

In both cases, Luke has to go into exile, but for different reasons, although they both involve Han Solo’s son going to the dark side.

In the “Fate of the Jedi” series, he is exiled after not only does his nephew Jacen go to the dark side and becomes a Sith Lord who plunges the galaxy once again into war, but also a group of Jedi start to go a bit mental shortly thereafter, and he takes the heat for it. He eventually is freed from this though, although he does take the oppurtunity to try to figure out exactly why his Nephew went bad, and discovers interesting new force users-and a new group of Sith-on the way.

 

In “Force Awakens” we learn that his Nephew Ben Solo fell to the Dark side, became Kylo Ren and killed (or also brought over to the dark side?) his students, although it’s not quite clear when this happened prior to the film. His exile seems to be self-imposed, although for some reason he’s looking for the original Jedi temple or something.

 

Han Solo/Chewbacca

 

In both continuties, Han marries Leia shortly after the events of “Return of the Jedi”. They remain more or less hapilly married (although with a few bumps in the road), and have three kids: The twins Jaina and Jacen, and Anakin (Named after his grandfather). Also, if the cover’s any indication (This novel is set around the same time as “Force Awakens” in the other timeline), he seems to be have aged a bit more gracefully. Although Chewbacca dies (more on that later  on) Anakin is killed during a Jedi mission, and Jacen goes to the dark side and is also killed by his sister no less, Han still keeps it together, with him and Leia even semi-adopting their granddaughter, Jacen’s daughter with fellow Jedi Tenel Ka.

 

Force Awaken’s Han Solo is a bit more down on his luck. After Ben went to the dark side and became Kylo Ren, he became estranged from Leia, and went back to smuggling with Chewbacca. He even got the Millenium Falcon stolen! However, the events of “The Force Awakens” help him to make a difference again, and he tries to redeem his son.

Now here’s where another thing is a bit different: Death.

 

In the novel series “The New Jedi Order” Chewbacca sacrifices himself saving Anakin Solo, and then gets crushed to death by a moon. This leaves Han devestated for a time, but he eventually is able to pull himself back together and help defeat the Yuzzhan Vong.

Movie Han? Once again, not so lucky.

Chewbacca unfortunately has to mourn for his friend, but not before knocking out a few Stormtroopers and also injuring his “nephew” Kylo Ren. After a period of mourning, he also accepts that life goes on and accepts Rey as the new Captain of the Falcon as they head to find Luke.

 

 

Princess Leia

In both cases, Leia becomes a politician for a time before moving onto other things, and eventually marries Han shortly after “Return of the Jedi”, and pretty much everything I wrote for Han in that period applies here too. In both cases, Leia eventually mostly leaves politics behind after a time, and here’s a key difference. In the novels, she decides to accept her Jedi inheritance fully at last, although after her kids become Jedi.

In the new continuity, Leia also leaves politics although in this case, it’s in part because a scandal reveals that she’s the daughter of Darth Vader to everyone, especially when she takes a hard line on the growing threat of the First Order. Also estranged from Han, she forms her own small force, the Resistance, becoming “General Organa”. Although not a Jedi, she still has force skills, as we see her ‘feel’ the death of Han (or alternatively Ben/Kylo’s feelings). Of course, her main quest in addition to fighting the First Order? Finding her brother so he can help her sort out this mess.

 

Unfortunately, with the death of actress Carrie Fisher (Although she had filmed her “Last Jedi” scenes, Leia’s fate in the sequel trilogy is in a state of flux now. But we’ll see what happens.

Star Wars comics history-Boba Fett in the Nineties

Boba Fett. Created for “The Empire Strikes Back”, Boba Fett was first introduced in the Star Wars holiday special’s cartoon segment, and finally made his live-action debut in the film, where he helped Darth Vader capture Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO, and was able to escape to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine to deliver Han on a carbonite slab to Jabba. Then, he appeared in ROTJ before being unceremoniously killed off by Han accidentally triggering his jet pack, causing him to fall into the mouth of the Sarlacc monster and die. Or did he?

 

Fett of course was revived in “Dark Empire”, although in a more plausible way, perhaps, than the Emperor in that series, as it was revealed his armor saved him from the millennia-long digestion of the Sarlacc. He appeared again in “Dark Empire II.”-and then a series of one shots, drawn by Dark Empire’s artist Cam Kennedy, but written by John Wagner, who wrote “Shadows of the Empire”‘s comic version.

In the trilogy of one shots, Boba gets involved somewhat in a Hutt family squabble involving a love affair, space pirates, and magicians. Yes, you read that right.

Another story was the serialized “Twin Engines Of Destruction” (In Star Wars Galaxy magazine), in which Boba finds himself up against an impostor, Jodo Kast, and also is partnered with his ESB rival for Han’s bounty, Dengar. It’s a nifty story with a lot of bad ass Fett moments.

 

The 90’s final Boba Fett 4-issue series, “Enemy of the Empire” had the main attraction of a confrontation between Boba and Darth Vader. The comic was published around the time of The Phantom Menace, when Dark Horse was publishing a decent amount of Vader-oriented material, as we were about to learn his backstory.

Boba’s origins though, would have to wait, and when they were revealed, a fresh amount of Fett-related comics would surface. However, these would in part, deal with a different Fett-his father and template, Jango.

Star Wars-Those we’ve lost-Part one

Star Wars has spanned several decades, and unfortunately, some of the actors have passed on over time. Carrie Fisher is the latest, and perhaps the most noticeable, as she was one of the lead actors in the film series. Her influence on film, as well as her personal influence as a writer and activist cannot be underestimated.

 

Here’s a look at some of the other Star Wars actors who have unfortunately passed.

 

Kenny Baker passed away in August 2016 at the age of 81. He operated R2-D2, although in later films a lot of his work was sometimes replaced by remote control, he still served as a consultant for the character up until The Force Awakens. He also starred in several other films, such as “Time Bandits”.

Christopher Lee played Count Dooku/Darth Tyrannus, the Sith Lord leader of the Seperatists-and Darth Vader’s predecessor-in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. Lee had an extremely diverse career, appearing in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies as Sauromon, the James Bond film “Man with the Golden Gun” as Scaramanga, and in several Hammer horror films as Dracula, in addition to many other roles.

 

 

Peter Cushing, who also starred in a great number of Hammer horror films,  passed away in 1994. He also played Sherlock Holmes, and a movie-only incarnation of The Doctor in Doctor Who, in two films based on the TV show’s Dalek stories (but outside it’s continuity)

Sebastian Shaw played the unmasked face of Darth Vader in “Return of the Jedi”, as well as the force ghost of Anakin Skywalker (prior to the 2004 DVD release). He passed in 1994. In addition to numerous TV and film roles, he was in a lot of plays in Britain.

 

 

 

Alec Guiness of course originated the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi survivor who helps lead Luke toward his destiny. Guiness starred in many films, such as Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations, Our Man in Havana, and Lawrence of Arabia.

 

Irvin Kershner was the director of The Empire Strikes Back, and a mentor of George Lucas. In addition to Empire, he directed many other films, such as A Fine Madness, Never Say Never Again (A Bond film) and Robocop II.

 

Richard Marquand was the director of “Return of the Jedi”. He also directed a few other films, such as Jagged Edge and Eye of The Needle. He also has a cameo in the film, as an AT-ST driver who gets tossed out by Chewbacca and the Ewoks.

Michael Sheard played Admiral Ozzell, the ill-fated commander of Darth Vader’s imperial fleet at the start of The Empire Strikes Back. Sheard appeared in many British productions, including several episodes of Doctor Who as various characters, the British drama Grange Hill, and the Indiana Jones films Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as two separate characters.

 

Star Wars Rogue One Thoughts Part Two

*warning: Some spoilers for the plot and ending!*

This article will mainly examine how Rogue One deviates from-and yet embraces as well-the typical Star Wars ‘formula’ and ‘feel’.

Rogue One does several things that are mostly unconventional for Star Wars film-the lack of the opening crawl, is of course the most glaring (Although the film still opens in space-although without a Star Destroyer this time, and features “A Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) as well as any episode number (There’s still a title card though after the prologue).

The film also largely deals away with the dissolves/wipes that the other films have used (although are still a few). Plus, the variety of planets (The most seen in a Star Wars film, I think, since Episode III’s “Order 66” sequence, and that was mainly just a few brief snippets) have location subtitles. With the exceptions of Yavin IV (Where a good deal of plot actin is set) and Coruscant and Mustafar-which only make brief appearances, they’re pretty much all new planets too.

 

Flashbacks are new too-they pretty much open the film, but there’s also a few other ones here and there (Such as the Ersos  on Coruscant). For a series that makes a big deal about the force giving people the gift of prophecy/recall it’s interesting how little the device has been used in the films.The closest we’ve really come to anything like this are the visions Luke has of Padme dying in Childbirth in “Revenge of the Sith”-more of ‘flashforward’ than anything (Luke of course saw Han and Leia in trouble in ESB, but it wasn’t visualized really) and the other force vision Rey has in “The Force Awakens”-which of course showed pretty much a general overview of the saber’s history, more or less….including the battle at Bespin, which she wasn’t present at (as well as others which were, such as her family leaving her on Jakku)

But it’s pretty clear that Jyn’s stuff are not really visions but memories which provide much exposition, and they’re of course clear enough to the viewers while Anakin and Rey’s visions were more on the vague side.

 

 

And of course Rogue One’s ending pretty much (and SPOILERS HERE!!!!!!) kills off the whole principal cast of the film, including the villain. The only real survivors are those that carry on to A New Hope-Leia, Vader, Tarkin Bail (The last two of course meets their end in that film) and Mon Mothma (Although she doesn’t resurface until ROTJ).

However, in a few ways Rogue One is very Star Wars-ish. The whole group of down on their luck misfits gathering together-something mostly lacking from the prequel trilogy (apart from maybe Jar-Jar and Anakin-not exactly the best examples!) is of course present in this film. Chirrut and Baze are also sort of a double act, similar in a few ways to R2-D2 and C-3PO (Although KS20 does a lot of talk about ‘odds’ and  technical stuff, he doesn’t have an R2-D2 with him, and with his size, friendship with Cassian and strength, is almost the Chewbacca of the film).

Of course there’s also sort of a ‘used’ universe concept that’s been present in most of the films. Although a lot of the technology in Rogue One closely matches that of the Original trilogy-including several of the same ships-there’s still a rough edge to the new ships and technology.

 

Jedha City also kind of looks a lot like the broken-looking frontier towns such as those seen on Jakku and Tatooine. Except Jedha’s city also seems to have a lot more Stormtrooper activity, as well as a force-worshiping element, the guardians of the whills.

Of course since “Empire Strikes Back” the series has usually portrayed battles on multiple fronts. Rogue One continues the transition. Jyn and her group battle Walkers, Stormtroopers and even some TIES on the ground, while the rebel fleet fights overhead to buy them more time and receive the transmission.

 

Rogue One also sort of puts something that we didn’t really get in The Force awakens, but something present in “Return of the Jedi” and “Revenge of the Sith” a big space battle involving ships of all sizes.

 

Of course the film also lacks a John Williams score (although a few of his themes are still there). It’s not quite that uncommon though- The “Clone Wars” movie, the “Shadows of the Empire” project, the Ewok films were all “Star Wars” but without the traditional Williams touch. Giannocho has sort of subbed for a series formerly composed by Williams-he was the composer of 2015’s Jurassic World as well. Williams is quite old at this point-in fact he’s already recorded a great deal of Episode 8’s score, something usually not done as much until closer to the end of production.